The Wine Lover’s Picks LCBO Vintages Release Jan 5, 2019

The January 5th, 2019  Vintages release theme is good value wines. In order to do that they are featuring a combo of tried and true value regions along with  some  lesser known varietals from lesser known regions.

Regions such as Chile, Argentina, Southwest France that are consistently good value  continue to be represented along with some lesser known grapes and blends.

Use this link to check out availability of wines closest to you – LCBO store locator. Just enter the product number in the search field in the upper right corner. When the product page comes up click on the Select Store button on the right margin.  A dialogue box will come up. Add your postal code to get a list of stores closest to you that have it in stock.

Or you can now order LCBO products on-line  .  Of late LCBO have indicated all release wines are available for on-line  ordering.

Here are my picks for some of the best value wines under $35 in this release.


TWLK:  Port is always good value for your dollar.  Because they are blends of multiple grapes you can expect a very similar experience from one port to another.  This one is very reasonable and would be a pleasant sipper.  You could also reserve this one to use in recipes so you don’t have to cringe to pour a couple of cups into your dish.


164608  750 mL (S)         $14.95

Ruby Ports are young, brightly coloured, fresh wines. They are aged for up to three years in order to soften tannins and integrate fruit and are ready to be
consumed any time after release. Their value pricing makes them excellent introductions to the world of Port, and since they don’t require decanting, they’re easy to enjoy. Look for touches of dried fruit, dark fruit, spice, ripe plum, chocolate and vanilla in this example. It will be a fine after-dinner sipper.

White Wines

MATAHIWI PINOT GRIS 2018 (Wairarapa, North Island, New Zealand)

630202     750 mL (D)     Score  93           $17.95
Double Gold Medal winner at the 2018 China Wine & Spirits Awards.

Sam Kim of  says ‘This is beautifully styled, showing lifted aromas of white flesh nectarine, poached pear, fig and jasmine on the nose, leading to a succulent palate that is fleshy and silky. The wine offers terrific
fruit purity together with fine texture and juicy acidity, finishing persistent and delectable. At its best: now to 2021.  Aromatic & Flavourful

SPINYBACK SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 (Nelson, South Island, New Zealand)

694737      750 mL (XD)   Score 90   $16.95

Gold Medal winner at the 2017 New Zealand International Wine Show.

Sam Kim of   says ‘Bright and fresh, the inviting bouquet shows green rockmelon, mandarin, nectarine and sweet basil aromas, leading to a beautifully fruited palate that is vibrant and refreshing. The wine offers
lovely youthful fruit flavours and juicy acidity, finishing long and attractive. At its best: now to 2019.   Aromatic & Flavourful

THE FOREIGN AFFAIR ENCHANTED 2017  (VQA Niagara Peninsula, On, Canada)

389767     750 mL (D)    Score 88     $17.95

TWLK:  I don’t usually feature wines that score less than 90 points. Foreign Affair Enchanted is consistently rated at 88/89 points and is one of the best received whites in the entire release. A Sauv Blanc and Riesling blend is an unusual combination.  Could be an interesting experiment for the price.

Rick VanSickle of says ‘The Sauvignon Blanc juice was
re-passed over the appassimento skins and lees (ripasso style) for added complexity. The nose rocks with expressive gooseberry, jasmine, grapefruit,
honeysuckle and citrus. It’s rich and flavourful on the palate with a range of gooseberry, lemon and grapefruit with underlying floral notes on a crisp,
vibrant finish.’  Aromatic & Flavourful

Red Wines

ZAHA EL CORTE 2014 (Toko Vineyard, Paraje Altamira, Mendoza, Argentina)

629972   750 mL (XD)    Score 96       $24.95

Tim Atkin, MW of, Argentina Special Report 2017   says “It’s very difficult to sell blends from Argentina,” according to Alejandro Sejanovich, but
anyone who tastes this co-fermented blend of Malbec with 22% Cabernet Sauvignon will surely be converted for life. Dense, savoury and concentrated, with Cabernet providing tannic backbone and saline freshness. Drink Date: 2018-24.’   Full-bodied & Firm


661892     750 mL (XD)     Score 95       $19.95

Gold Medal winner at the 2016 National Wine Show of Australia.

James Halliday of describes ‘Destemmed and crushed, open-fermented, 11-15 days on skins, matured for 12 months in French oak (15% new) … Vibrant colour; pure cassis fruit leads the way on the
bouquet and medium-bodied palate, but when you look behind the stats … you realise the nature and extent of Paul Hotker’s magical touch. Drink By:
2030.’ Medium-bodied & Fruity

GRAFFIGNA VESPARO MALBEC 2017 (Calchaquí Valley, Saltam, Argentina)

629790    750 mL (XD)   Score 93       $18.95

Tim Atkin, MW of, Argentina Special Report 2018  says ‘The Cafayate Vesparo Malbec comes from the Calchaqui Valleys and is typical of
the perfumed, “garrigue” style of the north, redolent with Mediterranean herbs. Silky, elegant and ripe, with some whole bunch sap, fine tannins and notes of fresh tobacco and raspberry compote. Drink Date: 2020-28.’ Full-bodied & Smooth

(Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León , Spain)

629832   750 mL (XD)  Score: 92        $16.95

David Lawrason of says ‘This has a nicely lifted, sweetish,
fragrant nose of cedar, greens, cocoa, leather and spice. It’s medium-full bodied, nicely elegant, structured and focused. Fine tannins, some minerality. The length is excellent. Impressive.’ Medium-bodied & Fruity


497354  750 mL (XD)     Score 92    $17.95

James Suckling of describes ‘A dense and silky red with lots of blackberry and sweet tobacco character. Full body, pretty tannins and a savory finish. Stylish. Drink now.’  Full-bodied & Smooth

(DOCG Piedmont, Italy)

265413     (XD)     Score 90   $15.95

Kerin O’Keefe of  Wine Enthusiast describes ‘Fragrant purple flower, baking
spice and black-skinned berry aromas mingle with an earthy whiff of forest floor. On the succulent palate, supple tannins and fresh acidity balance juicy
Marasca cherry, crushed raspberry and licorice. It’s easy drinking and savory. Drink through 2020. Ranked #58 in the 2018 Wine Enthusiast Top
100 Best Buys.’   Medium-bodied & Fruity

CASTLE ROCK PETITE SIRAH 2015 (Paso Robles, California, USA)

633172 (XD)    Score 90  $18.95

Matt Kettman of  Wine Enthusiast  describes ‘Vibrant blackberry aromas leap from the glass on this bottling, which also offers anise, violet and dried meat aromas. The palate combines smashed black currants with black pepper and
violets, wrapped together by serious tannins. Best Buy. ‘  Full-bodied & Smooth

(Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA)

054080    (XD)   Score 90     $24.95

David Lawrason of says ‘ The nose is a bit closed at the
moment but the richness and ripeness of the vintage is nicely evident with cassis, mint, some forest floor woodiness and graphite. It is quite full bodied,
sinewy and firm cabernet. I like the authenticity and structure at the price. Indeed, great value in cellar worthy cabernet. Nicely done. Very good to excellent length.’   Full-bodied & Firm

Cellar Suggestions

(DOCG Tuscany, Italy)

540922 (XD)      Score 92   $17.95

Bruce Sanderson of  says ‘A mix of iron, cherry, almond,
leather and sanguine flavors makes this a textbook Sangiovese. Though dense, this is balanced and lingers on the finish. Best from 2020 through 2027. Smart Buys’.  Medium-bodied & Fruity

CHÂTEAU DU BREUIL 2014 Cru Bourgeois ( AC Haut-Médoc, France)

633081   (XD)    Score    92      $24.95

Roger Voss of Wine Enthusiast says ‘This wine comes from an estate
surrounding an impressive castle. The estate itself was created in the 6th century and is under the same ownership as neighboring Château Cissac. The wine is dark colored with intense flavor. It’s sourced from old vines and carries Petit Verdot in the blend. It has the weight and the richness to age well. Drink from 2022.’  Full-bodied & Firm


Good Bets

Traditional method (AC, Burgundy, France) 

631762 (D) $19.95

Vintages tasting note:   Crafted from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay
and Aligoté, this wine is initially quite closed when poured, but the aromas really open up with air and time. The palate is not at all shy and is immediately
generous. Apple, lemon, vanilla and caramel notes are very present. There is considerable richness and depth here framed by a delicately achieved toast. A nice aperitif, this will also be a marvellous palate-refresher throughout your meal, and the vibrant food-friendly acidity will make it compatible with a wide range of main courses. (Vintages panel, Feb. 2018)
Medium-bodied & Flavourful


NORFOLK RISE VINEYARD SHIRAZ 2017 (Mount Benson, Limestone Coast, South Australia)

632117 (XD) $14.95
TWLK:  Scoring on this one ranges from 88 to 95.  I believe the 95 rating is an outlier but all reviewers agree however it is a pleasant sipper for the money.

Jane Faulkner of  says’ Machine harvested, crushed,
destemmed, fermented, after 12 days pressed to stainless steel and 10% French oak barriques for 10 months. Highly perfumed, inexpensive and totally
enjoyable punching well above its weight. All florals, black pepper and spice with juicy red fruits and a savoury overlay. It’s medium-bodied, buoyant with
supple tannins, ultra-refreshing and frighteningly easy to drink. Drink By: 2022. ‘ Medium-bodied & Fruity


38067   (D) $14.95

Score: Gold (Concours de Vins Macon,

Vintages note: This is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah sourced from vines averaging 40-45 years of age. It will deliver dark fruit, spice, earth and herbal tones in an easy-drinking, fresh, balanced package with satisfying structure and refinement. Pair this great value with burgers or grilled pork loin.
Full-bodied & Smooth


621581 (XD) $19.95
TWLK:  Location and description suggest you may be getting the value of a Pouilly-Fuissé here  at half the price.

Saint-Véran produces only Chardonnay and the wines bear a close similarity to those of its renowned neighbour Pouilly-Fuissé, which actually divides the
vineyards of Saint-Véran into northern and southern sections. These are wines noted for their aromas of peach and pear with honeysuckle, acacia, almond,
spice and butter. They are crisp and fresh with citrus and smoky minerality joining the replays on the palate. Full-bodied & Rich


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